Atlassian Customer ShipIT Creates Dynamic Jira Map

Each quarter, Atlassian has a 24 hour hackathon, called ShipIt, where they stop all work duties to create something awesome.  It embodies their culture of innovation and demonstrates a sacred company value: “Be the change you seek.”

This week, 24 non-Atlassians participated in the first Atlassian User Group (AUG) Leader ShipIt.  Since we’re Atlassian customers, volunteers, and have work duties we can’t ignore, our hackathon lasted 3 weeks, instead of 24 hours.  We worked nights and weekends to bring our ideas to life and then submitted our finished products as a three minute video.

Project Planning at Atlassian Summit

We were one of 10 teams that accepted the ShipIt challenge.  Our team included six AUG Leaders from all over the country.  We named ourselves “Atlas”.  We wanted to solve a visibility issue that impacts the AUG program and we wanted to use Atlassian products to do it.

Problem Statement

As an Atlassian User Group Member, an AUG Leader, or member of the Atlassian Community Team, I’d like to:

  • See a visual representation of the active AUG locations around the world
  • Find the user groups near my location
  • View each group’s size, contact details, and the website URL
  • Encourage traveling users to connect with additional groups
  • Create a dynamic solution which will never be out of date or require manual maintenance
  • Encourage new membership by showing existing user groups
  • Encourage new group formation by showing location gaps
  • Use Atlassian tools to store the data and collaborate during the project

Our Solution

Jira Custom Fields

We built a dynamic map that pulls its data from Jira issues!  We started with a Jira project, where each user group is represented by an issue.  The project has custom fields, like “Map Location” and “Group Size”, to hold information about each group.  The project has custom workflow statuses, like “Active” and “Inactive”, to show the current state of each group.

We used Jira’s REST API to retrieve issue data for only user groups in certain statuses.  Next, we injected the JSON results into SQL 2016.  We then restructured the data for map use.  For example, we translated the plain text “Map Location” values into coordinates the Google Maps API would understand.  Finally, we created a script that automates the REST API calls and the Geocoding of the locations.  The script also generates an HTML file with all the user group data plotted.  The process of updating the HTML file on the server is automated too.  The file is uploaded to our Confluence instance and versioned through the REST API.  It is also published to an external website, demonstrating additional viewing abilities.

When a user group transitions to another status, or if any Jira issue data is updated, those changes are automatically reflected on the map!  This includes changes to the group’s name, estimated user counts, and group contact information.  The map requires no manual updates, which was a project goal.

Clicking a map pin displays city information, like the group size, the city contact email address, and a link to the group’s website.  The map also automatically centers to your current location and counts the total number of active user groups displayed.  The look and feel is fully customizable and results can be embedded on other websites, including Confluence and Jira.

Additionally, we used HipChat’s Botler service to create map entry point.  In HipChat, if an AUG Leader types “an AUG in” as in “Is there an AUG in Nebraska?” a link to the map will automatically appear.  See our creation in action with the three minute ShipIt video below.

You can also demo our proof of concept live!  NOTE:  This is an “https” link with no SSL certificate installed.  A browser warning will display and is expected.

Atlassian Products Used

We started collaborating in person at the Atlassian Summit user conference and used Atlassian tools to stay connected after returning home.  We used:

  • Trello to collect user stories, feature requests, and track progress,
  • Confluence to make decisions and document solution details,
  • HipChat for daily discussions and immediate feedback,
  • and Jira to store all user group location and status data.

Our Team

We’re very proud of what we built and had an awesome first Atlassian ShipIT experience!

  • Mark Livingstone, IT Director at Qualcomm and San Diego, CA AUG Leader
  • Marlon Palha, Head of Business Systems at ITHAKA and New York City AUG Leader
  • Stephen Sifers, Network Operations Center Manager at Sagiss and Dallas, TX AUG Leader
  • Jeff Tillett, Agile IT Operations Manager at AppDynamics and Dallas, TX AUG Leader
  • Justin Witz, Chief Technology Officer at FRA PlanTools LLC and Charlotte, NC AUG Leader
  • Rachel Wright, Author of the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook and member of the AUG Leader Council.

How to Study for JIRA Administrator Certification

I was ecstatic to participate in the certification beta testing program and become one of the first certified JIRA Administrators!

Atlassian describes their certification as a way to “…enhance your credibility, sharpen your performance, and help you deliver world-class Atlassian experiences to teams everywhere.”  The first step is passing a general scenario-based exam, called “ACP-100.”  Then, you’re eligible to take additional advanced tests to showcase specialized skills and keep your certification current.  The first additional test available is ACP-110: “Advanced JIRA Workflows.”

Experience

Atlassian recommends 2-3 years of JIRA administration experience.  When I took the exam, I had 5.5 years of general JIRA user experience and 3.5 years experience as an administrator.  Even with more than the recommended experience, the exam was challenging.  I believe the year count alone doesn’t equate to “experience”.  There’s a large difference between causal application administration, where you make a project customization every now and then (but JIRA basically runs itself), and deep administration, where you’ve experienced setting up the application from scratch, upgrading it, maintaining it, and are working daily in the administrative portion of the application.  If the majority of your time has been spent as a casual administrator, you’ll need extra learning and preparation time.

How to Study

1. Read everything about the exam on Atlassian’s web site.
Note which JIRA versions the test will cover.

2. Read the entire JIRA Administrator’s Guide for the versions you’ll be tested on.

3. Read the release notes for the versions the test will cover.

4. Visit every page in the application’s admin UI to remind yourself of the settings and capabilities.

5. Read the Atlassian-provided exam study guide and sample questions.
Recommendation:  Approach the JIRA Administrator certification exam topics from multiple angles.  For example, if you have a small organization, with a handful of projects and users, you’ll want to consider how a large organization, with hundreds of projects and thousands of users, would tackle a problem.  If your organization uses the server version, you’ll want to consider how a strategy might differ in the cloud version.  Think of scenarios that don’t apply to your organization but would be common among others.  Think of areas of your application that aren’t setup quite right and how you’d do it better.  It’s not enough to understand your application’s intricacies, you need to understand how JIRA is generally intended to be configured.

Some of the beta testers formed a study group.  We used the exam study guide to write all the questions we thought might be on the test.  Then, we answered each question in detail.  We met once a week for a month to review the content each user added, discuss alternatives, and add additional notes and experiences.  Many of us credit these study sessions as how we passed the test.  Why not form your own study group?

6. Read the JIRA Strategy Admin Workbook.
It’s about what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, and why.  As part of the strategy recommendations, it covers admin concepts.  When I started writing the book, there wasn’t a certification, so I didn’t write it for that purpose. But it does make a great companion to the existing Atlassian documentation and certification study materials.  Read more about the book and its contents at: https://www.jirastrategy.com/contents

7. Visit the testing vendor’s website, as well as the website of the specific testing center, to learn all you can about the test experience.

For example, you’ll need to bring two forms of ID.  You won’t be able to take any belongings into the testing room.  (This includes your wallet, phone, and keys.)

Recommendation:  Bring a pair of earplugs.  They will shield you from potential distractions, like noise from adjoining rooms, your neighbor’s pencil tapping, and typing and mouse clicks that really stand out in an otherwise silent room.

Conclusion

I estimate I spent 10 hours specifically preparing for the exam.  I was very happy to pass, but even if I didn’t, the prep time was valuable.  I learned things I simply didn’t know and explored parts of the application I hadn’t touched in a while.  The certification process as a whole made me a better JIRA Administrator.

JIRA Administrator Certification Earned

Certified JIRA Administrator
Rachel Wright, Certified JIRA Administrator

Today I learned that I passed the JIRA Administrator exam!  It’s pretty neat to be one of the first named.

In June 2016, Atlassian launched their JIRA Administrator Certification program.  Atlassian describes their certification as a way to “…enhance your credibility, sharpen your performance, and help you deliver world-class Atlassian experiences to teams everywhere.”  The first step is passing a general scenario-based exam, called “ACP-100.”  Then, you’re eligible to take additional advanced tests to showcase specialized skills and keep your certification current.  The first additional test is ACP-110: “Advanced JIRA Workflows.”

See also: How to Study for JIRA Administrator Certification